Parents tell their stories of at-home schooling during COVID-19 lockdowns

LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Eliza Hills and her daughter. Picture: Supplied
LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Eliza Hills and her daughter. Picture: Supplied

"Oh boy where do I start," says Eliza Hills - a parent who also works full-time in fundraising and events - when asked how lockdown learning was going in her family.

"My first thought is that it's horrendous, truly horrendous. My days are filled with so many emotions. I'm quite a positive person, I wake up honestly every day thinking today is going to be a great day, but before long my calm voice is getting higher and higher pitched, and it's my six-year-old daughter telling me to 'breathe mummy, just take a deep breath'. Got to love the mindfulness teaching they do at school these days!

"I read all the social posts about people recommending to just 'enjoy your time, make memories, do what you can as this time will soon pass'. While that is all good in theory, my fear is that I just don't want to let the ball drop and her learning level slip and fall behind.

"I'm in admiration of my colleagues who go for runs or walks to break up their work day, to the parents not juggling working full time, as they don't have that pressure of work deadlines, managing teams and keeping their own staff motivated.

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"With my daughter being an only child, it brings its own challenges. She is lonely when we aren't doing school work together and I'm catching up on my full time job.

"Zoom calls seem to be more frequent than ever as there is a corporate expectation to stay even better connected, and I have such a strong work ethic that I can't let my work slide either, but this ultimately means she has no one to play with.

"Unfortunately I fear I am failing at every moment. My husband is amazing and so supportive, our public school has been wonderful, they give us the tools to educate, but they can only do so much from afar.

"I read a great quote the other day: 'we might be all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat. Some have yachts, some have canoes and some are drowning. Just be kind and help whoever you can."

Adapt and overcome

LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Susie Campbell and her sons Thomas, 11, and Patrick, 8, learning to tell time on the driveway. Picture: Geoff Jones

LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Susie Campbell and her sons Thomas, 11, and Patrick, 8, learning to tell time on the driveway. Picture: Geoff Jones

When northern Sydney mother of two Susie Campbell heard Greater Sydney was going into lockdown again she feared the worst.

During the 2020 lockdown, she home schooled her two sons Patrick, 8 and Thomas, 11. Her youngest hated all the screen time and her oldest was bored. All this while she was working from home.

"Last time it was awful, I had tears, shouting and upsets. It was just awful because I was trying to follow exactly what the lesson plan said," she said.

"[Patrick] can't sit and stare at a screen, it doesn't work and that's obviously a challenge for me and last lockdown was horrendous."

Ms Campbell is a primary school teacher by trade, although doesn't work in that role now, and has used those skills to help her boys learn during the lockdown. "I'm adapting their learning, I don't follow it to the letter because I know what suits my kids," she said.

LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Thomas, 11, and Patrick, 8, Campbell learning to tell time on the driveway. Picture: Geoff Jones

LOCKDOWN LEARNING: Thomas, 11, and Patrick, 8, Campbell learning to tell time on the driveway. Picture: Geoff Jones

Each morning she logs onto her kids' classes and checks out what she can adapt to give them the same lessons outdoors in nature. Patrick is learning to tell the time though chalk drawings on the driveway. He's learning to count by the three of them going to a nature trail and adding and subtracting steps as they stand on them.

"As soon as I found my routine I was fine," she said.

Despite the successes, she says it is still tough. She's lost some clients in her marketing/PR business as she tries to merge home schooling with work. And, she's been left feeling deflated by the mothers bragging about all their home schooling successes on social media.

"For those of us who are not in that unique position where we can give up our day, it was demoralising," she said.

This story 'I fear I am failing at every moment': parents tell their lockdown learning story first appeared on Northern Beaches Review.